Mountain Road (1) (The)

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MOUNTAIN ROAD [1], THE (Bóthar an Chnoic). Irish, Reel. D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Mallinson, Mitchell, Mulvihill, Vallely): AABB (Williamson): AA'BB (Phillips): AABBB' (Kennedy). The single-reel "The Mountain Road" was composed in 1922 by County Sligo fiddler Michael Gorman (1895-1970), originally as a six-part piece, although it is standard now to play it as a two-part tune (a single reel is one in which each part generally repeated only once). He originally recorded it on a 78 RPM record for the British-based Chappell lable. Philadelphia fiddler John Vesey, himself originally from County Sligo, also recorded the tune in six parts in 1961. There is an actual 'Mountain Road' in Tubbercurry (or Tobercurry), Sligo, the location of the Old Boys school and the house were Gorman's family still lives. The road leads to a place called Moylough, the original home of fiddler John Vesey (who emigrated to America). It is rumored that Gorman was inspired by the fact that the mountain road was actually the back road out of town and a better smuggling route for poitín since the route wasn't as well traveled, and because the main road had a gardai station on it. The contraband was supposedly carried in fiddle cases held on the handlebars of bicycles. Piper Thomas Johnson writes: "Michael's son used to take his dad's fiddle down the pub to sessions. He didn't play himself but thought his dad would like the idea of his fiddle at least, going down the pub for the session" [Irtrad-L].

Michael Gorman and Margaret Barry

Sources for notated versions: piper Willie Clancy (1918-1973, Miltown Malbay, west Clare) [Mitchell]; fiddler Michael Gorman (Ireland) [Williamson]; Anne Ferguson [Phillips]; Denis Murphy (Sliabh Luachra region, Co. Kerry) [Mulvihill].

Printed sources: Bulmer & Sharpley (Music from Ireland, vol. 1), 1974; No. 14. Kennedy (Traditional Dance Music of Britain and Ireland: Reels and Rants), 1997; No. 142, p. 34. Mallinson (100 Essential), 1995; No. 20, p. 9. Mitchell (Dance Music of Willie Clancy), 1993; No. 38, pp. 50-51. Mulvihill (1st Collection), 1986; No. 8, p. 2. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; p. 159. Vallely (Learn to Play the Fiddle with Armagh Pipers Club), 197?; No. 39, p. 36. Williamson (English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish Fiddle Tunes), 1976; p. 71 (with two variations).

Recorded sources: Globestyle Irish CDORBD 085, Denis Murphy & Julia Clifford - "The Rushy Mountain" (1994. Reissue of Topic recordings). Paddy Glackin & Paddy Keenan - "Doublin'". Popcorn Behavior - "Journeywork" (1997). Topic TSCD 525D, Michael Gorman - "The Sligo Champion. The Fiddle Music of County Sligo" (2001. Originally recorded in 1955). Michael Gorman - "The Mountain Road."

See also listing at:
Alan Ng's [1]
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [2]
Hear fiddler Denis Murphy's version at the Comhaltas Archive [3]
Hear fiddlers Brenda McCann, Colette Beagon and Sean Norman play the tune at the Comhaltas Archive [4]

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